HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The inheritance of Rome : a history of…
Loading...

The inheritance of Rome : a history of Europe from 400 to 1000

by Chris Wickham

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
500620,399 (3.72)21
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Just to be clear: Chris Wickham does not believe that he can explain anything. He repeats this over and over, so you'll not get the wrong idea. Let's be very, very clear: nothing in history is 'inevitable,' everything is 'contingent,' and we'd be fools to write history with our hindsight. Nope, we should see things as they were seen at the time. Except for women: the political role of women in the early middle ages deserves about 15% of a book covering everything from the production of wheel-thrown pottery to the highest of the high adventures, moral and military.

A historian friend of mine tells me these are the conventional pieties of professional historiography, and that I should just ignore them. But, at least in this book, they're so intrusive that it's impossible to do so. Chris Wickham obviously knows everything: from the tribes of Finland to the early Caliphates, it's all in here. He is, says the Literary Review, "a master of a pointillist narrative style." But if you add his immense knowledge to his pointillist narrative (i.e., = no narrative), you get page after page of fairly dull anecdote, none of which is put into any kind of context. Nothing can be compared to anything else without doing violence to the quidditas of the individual. Local experience is everything. If anyone has suggested the existence of a large scale trend (end of Roman civilization/ various crises/ the coming of feudalism) actually happened, Wickham has fifteen good examples to show why it didn't. This is because he disdains moralism in history (you know, the kind of thing where someone gets all huffy because King Wumba raped his mistress in 6th century Visigothic Spain. Evil Wumba! Well, fair enough). But our author is surely aware that these are not the only two ways to write history (see Maccullough, Diarmid; Judt, Tony et al...) Why doesn't he temper the mind-numbing nominalism (names of people, places and factions from the randomly chosen pp 294-5, excluding the ones most people can actually picture or point to on a map: Jubayr, Kufa, al-Farazdaq, Basra, Amman, al-Malik, Hisham, Sulayman, Gregory, Einhard, Synesios, Marwan, Khurasan, Yadi III, Al-Walid, Yamani, Qaysi, Marwan II, Kharijite, Hashimiyya, Quraysh, 'Ali, 'Abbas, Abu Muslim, Merv) with some comparison or generalization? Presumably because generalization has horns, a spade tipped tail, and makes idle hands its plaything.

After this romanticizing folly, you'll be surprised to find that the final chapter is called 'Trends in European History.' It's 13 pages long. Unless you're riveted by the catalog of ships' names in old epic poems, you might want to skip straight to them in your library copy. If you're looking for information about individuals though, this book is great. Also great are the chapters on Islam and its impact on Europe, parade of names aside. Three cheers for that. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I'm sure that there is a great deal of learning behind almost every sentence. However, the book is full of long tracts of boredom, punctuated with the occasional interesting paragraph. Too bad the author thought it necessary to provide an old-school list of names and dates without enough context. ( )
  ValeStrasse | Sep 1, 2012 |
This book deals with a fascinating and often neglected period in the history of Europe. Sadly, it is a very hard read. Unlike, say, John Julius Norwich, the author is hardly able to paint the larger picture in which to add the details. Combined with a writing style that is almost a parody with its double negations and sentences that turn around on themselves, this makes it almost unreadable as a non-fiction book, but turns it into a dense textbook where almost every sentence needs to be parsed and analysed to acquire its full meaning. Wickham is certainly a knowledgeable academic, but he is lacking the skill of successfully sharing this knowledge with the public. ( )
1 vote fist | Apr 20, 2012 |
The Dark Ages are not as 'dark' as I had assumed. That said, this is a difficult book to read. It covers 600 years of history across Europe, the Middle East, and Turkey - in only 550 pages. Altogether, a great deal of history in a limited space.
I learned in particular that this is the period in which Christian morality entwined with the practice of government raising the issues which we continue to confront today. Additionally the aristocracy and royalty differentiated themselves from the peasantry by systematically disenfranchising them progressively throughout this time.
The history presented is not monolithic and the work overall is a good introduction to the complexity of the period, but only an introduction... ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Nov 5, 2010 |
Like I have said before, I love history, especially early medieval history. One of the blogs I follow is the one run by Medievalists.net. I had seen several announcements for the new installment of Penguin’s history of Europe, written by Chris Wickham. When the reviews came in, and were very positive, I couldn’t help myself. On a recent trip to England I got the book.

The book starts out with a short introduction into the Roman Empire in the third and fourth century. From that the book focusses mostly on the history of the Byzantine empire, the Franks, current day England and the Islam empire. Besides that it also looks at the situations in other parts of Europe, from Scandinavia to Ireland, from Bulgaria to Poland.

For me, the explanations of Wickham were very clear. In this introduction he starts out by explaining how he came to the conclussions that he came to, and how contemporary sources might not be trustable, but can still be useful. I have read reviews that say that the book is a bit too advanced to be an introduction, but for me the level was never too advanced. Some things might have been explored too deeply, but there was always a reason for that, to set up other chapters.

What I loved most about this book is that it not only tells you what happened, but it explains in detail how it could happen, and why it happened in a certain place and time, and not somewhere else. It also tried to say things about regions you don’t read much about (Eastern Europe), which helped to complete the picture.

What I am trying to say, is that this book was a very good and very readable introduction to medieval history, and that I highly recommend it to anyone interested in early European history. ( )
4 vote divinenanny | Apr 24, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For the students of AMH, the Ancient and Medieval History degree of the University of Birmingham, 1976–2005, who have heard and discussed much of this before
First words
Early medieval Europe has, over and over, been misunderstood.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Historian Chris Wickham defies conventional views of the "Dark Ages" in European history with a work of rigorous yet accessible scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of new material and featuring a thoughtful synthesis of historical and archaeological approaches, Wickham argues that these centuries were critical in the formulation of European identity. Far from being a "middle" period between more significant epochs, this age has much to tell us in its own right about the progress of culture and the development of political thought. Wickham focuses on a world still profoundly shaped by Rome, which encompassed peoples ranging from Goths, Franks, and Vandals to Arabs, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings. Digging deep into each culture, Wickham constructs a vivid portrait of a vast and varied world stretching from Ireland to Constantinople, the Baltic to the Mediterranean--the crucible in which Europe would ultimately be created.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
78 wanted3 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.72)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 5
2.5 3
3 9
3.5 4
4 19
4.5 2
5 12

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,667,102 books! | Top bar: Always visible